But there's one special place in Ontario that embodies all of the aforementioned features. The best part? It's only a few hours away from Toronto.
Manitoulin Island is the world's largest freshwater island, a paradise nestled within the waters of the great Lake Huron. A four-hour drive to the tip of the Tobermory peninsula precedes a ferry ride destined for the picturesque island.
Upon stepping off the ferry, you'll be greeted with the most stunning displays of nature and wildlife. Beautiful trees and wildflowers line the trails you walk on, and along the way, you'll come across towering cliffs that offer the most breathtaking views of the island landscape.
Of the countless things to check out on the island, there are a few areas in particular that you must see during your visit. Providence Bay is the largest sandy beach on the island, featuring a gorgeous boardwalk, snack shops, and play parks for any young ones you may be with.
Misery Bay, while betrayed by its name, is another beach with shallow waters that get so warm you'll want to spend your whole day there. It's just an hour's drive down the coast from Providence Bay, making for the perfect beach day getaway!
Tucked away in the central region of the island are the Bridal Veil Falls — a glorious cascade of water spilling into a clear blue, swimmable lake. There are also the infamous Cup and Saucer hiking trails to check out, which end at cliffs overlooking unforgettable panoramic views of the entire island.
Learn about the island's history at the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, a museum dedicated to preserving the culture, arts and traditions of the Anishinaabe people of Mnidoo Mnising (commonly known as Manitoulin Island). The centre offers workshops like beading, tool making and language lessons.
What better way to end your visit than a stop at the local brewery? Manitoulin Brewing Co. names its beers after popular spots around the island, like the Swing Bridge Blonde Ale and Twin Bluffs Vienna Lager. Sit down for a draft beer in the retrofitted silo or take some tall cans to go. Not into beer? The brewery's patio also has a resident food truck!
Visit Manitoulin Island's tourism website to plan your trip to paradise today!
This article has been updated since it was originally published on July 21, 2016.